Inviting Yourself To Social Events

A couple of people have emailed me to ask if, or when, it's okay to invite themselves to something.

The answer is 'it depends'. Sometimes it's totally fine, at other times it's more inappropriate. What I think is important though is that sometimes it is okay to invite yourself to things, and knowing that may let you have a better social life. I'll go into more detail below, but this is really one of those areas where you have to use your own judgment. Every situation is different. There aren't any hard and fast rules.

General arguments for and against people inviting themselves to events

A lot of people have an opinion on whether it's okay for someone to invite themselves to an event or not.

Reasons for people inviting themselves

Reasons against people inviting themselves

What's tricky about all of this is how much it depends on a mix of factors. In some circumstances it may be totally fine to invite yourself to an event where on paper it would seem like a stupid idea. Or just the opposite could happen, and it may be a bad move to invite yourself to an event where that kind of thing is commonly okay.

Situations where it's generally okay to invite yourself

The more open, "drop in", and casual an event is, the more likely it's okay if you invite yourself along, or just say you're going to show up. Examples:

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Situations where it's probably not the best idea to invite yourself

I read around before writing this article, to see what other people had to say on the subject. For many of the situations below, it was generally agreed you shouldn't invite yourself along:

The people organizing the event

A big factor in whether inviting yourself may be acceptable are the traits of the person pulling the social outing together, and the other people who are attending:

How to ask to be invited to something

There's no real trick to asking if you can come along to something. I would suggest you ask in a casual, friendly, "no pressure" tone though. You don't want to seem desperate, more like you think it sounds interesting and may drop by, but if you can't come it's no big deal, and it wouldn't mortally offend you or anything. Ideally you've got lots of other stuff going on in your social life, so you have this attitude naturally.

In that happy, low key tone, you could say something like:

How well do you get along with the people?

A broader issue in whether inviting yourself is okay is how much will people like your company once you're there? If you're a nice, fun, interesting person, who gets along well with everyone who's coming to that outing, or with people in general, then nobody's really going to protest if you appear. On the other hand, if you tend to be a little more of a dead weight kind of person, or are actively off-putting in some way, then everyone's less likely to appreciate you trying to horn in on their plans. If you can improve the overall social impression you make, you'll give yourself more leeway to invite yourself to things.

I think that's what's really at the heart of it a lot of the time when people ask if it's okay to invite themselves somewhere. They're really wondering, "Do these people like me and want me around?" For example, they're semi-close to a group of friends who they want to spend more time with, but they're usually not formally asked to join them. They wonder if they should take charge and ask if they can come along, but they're also worried that the group doesn't actually want them there. Maybe in the past they've spent time with these people, but have felt ignored or left out, or like they were quiet and boring.

What do these people really think of you? It's another scenario without anything close to a quick, clear answer. I discuss it more in this article, about when you're not sure if people are really interested in being friends with you or not.